When the 2010’s began, the World Series was a match up against two franchises not known for their October magic. The Giants had not won it all since 1954, when they called New York their home. The Rangers had only won one post season GAME going into 2010.
The Giants took control of the 2010 World Series early, but it was rookie Mitch Moreland’s bat that gave the Rangers life.
Texas won 14 of 15 in June to storm into first place. And unlike a lot of previous Rangers squads, Ron Washington’s team did not fade in the Lone Star State heat. Josh Hamilton and Michael Young provided the offense and Cliff Lee was picked up in midseason to boost the rotation.
Then in October, the confronted many of their post season demons. First they ended their 9 game playoff losing streak. They eliminated a tough Tampa Bay team to advance to their first ever ALCS. There they faced their nemesis, the Yankee. 6 games later, Hamilton and company eliminated the defending World Champs and finally went to the World Series.
But the Giants took the first two games and the Rangers returned to Arlington in a hole. The Giants pitching was dominant after upsetting the Phillies. Tim Lincecum got off to a rocky start in Game 1 but settled down to win it. Matt Cain dominated Game 2.
Game 3 pitted Colby Lewis and Jonathan Sanchez. The Giants deep bullpen was rested and the Rangers knew they had to get to Sanchez early to have a shot to make the world Series competitive.
The inconsistent left hander pitched around a single in the first and retired Elvis Andrus, Josh Hamilton and Vlad Guerrero.
In the bottom of the second, the Rangers got a lead off double from Nelson Cruz but it looked like it would go to waste when Ian Kinsler and Jeff Francoeur grounded out. After a walk to Bengie Molina, the Rangers sent up their number 9 hitter, Mitch Moreland.
Moreland was a 24 year old rookie who played only 47 games for the Rangers in 2010. The only reason he was the every day first baseman was because highly touted prospect Justin Smoak was sent packing to Seattle in the Cliff Lee deal. Moreland’s solid season in minor league Oklahoma City earned him a spot. Normally first base would be the spot for a slugging veteran. But Ron Washington trusted Moreland with the job.
He rewarded his manager with a .389 average in the ALCS. He was 3 for 5 over the first two World Series games. So clearly, he was not a typical number 9 hitter.
With the count 2 and 2 and Sanchez a pitch away from getting out of another inning, Moreland fouled off pitch after pitch. On the 9th pitch of the at bat, he lined it into the right field stands. The Rangers were up 3-0.
They added a fourth run and then hung on as a Giants comeback fell short and the Rangers won 4-2.
It would be Texas’ final hour as the Giants used Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson to shut down their mighty attack and take the series in 5. But with one hard fought for at bat, the Rangers had hope in the series. It was a moment lost in the end results of the series but not lost on this author.
That makes him the Unsung Post Season Hero of October 30.